AS regular observers of West Dunbartonshire Council will know, I and my Labour colleagues have been in opposition since the last council election in 2017.

At a recent full council meeting, I gave my view of what an opposition councillor does. Most importantly, we represent the people who elected us. We hold the council to account. We scrutinise the council’s performance. And, when we can, we make suggestions to the council about how constituents’ lives might be improved.

Now, at that meeting last month we voted to express our disappointment in the council’s performance. We won that vote. The council failed 21 of its 40 performance targets. We can only move on if we acknowledge what needs to be put right.

The council is spending less of your money on customer service, roads repairs, drainage, and the anti-social behaviour service, to mention only a few. People are frustrated that they cannot get through on the phone to a council officer.

I brought a motion to a full council meeting asking that we look into ventilation problems in schools and, if necessary ask the Scottish Government for money to deal with this. This was defeated by the SNP administration, who always shy away from any criticism of the Scottish Government.

During questioning at that meeting, it also became clear that there are no plans to vaccinate children in our schools against Covid. It is a scandal that a lack of planning and resources makes our schools less safe at this time.

It is the role of an opposition councillor to reveal the truth and try to make things better. Accordingly, I have raised this important matter again this week with the health and social care partnership.

At a special meeting of the council last week, to consider how WDC should respond to the Scottish Government’s consultation on proposals for National Care Service, I brought a motion saying that we need to act now – not in 2023 – to increase funding for social care, increase carers’ pay to £12 an hour, rising as soon as possible to £15 an hour, and keep services local.

The SNP and the Tories ganged up to defeat this. They obviously share common values of underfunding of public services and private profit.

Recently, it has been quite noticeable that the Labour opposition is in fact driving the council agenda through relentless scrutiny and motions suggesting service improvement. Occasionally, we win these votes.

One recent example was my motion to enhance gritting of pavements and footpaths which continues to prevent winter falls. I have asked for a report on this to come to council next month.

I look forward to continuing to serve you in opposition – and hopefully in a Labour administration after next May’s council election – to put Labour values of putting people first at the top of the agenda.